When is the last time you put meaningful time into goal-setting, professional or personal? I’m baffled that many of us fail to set aside dedicated time for this, myself included. Yes, you heard it here first: the author of this article is guilty of such a sin.
I doubt any of you would argue whether we live in a world of instant gratification, because, well…we do. I’ll go out on a limb and speak for everyone in asserting such a thing. But our lives should and can be so much more than serial flashes of happiness and satisfaction. To find this euphoria, this “true meaning”, we need to define thoughtful and calculated goals.
With 2017 fast approaching (I know, right?), we could all help ourselves a great deal by setting goals for the new year. Meaningful goals will result from a little old-fashioned soul searching and the ability to ask yourself, and answer, some tough questions about last year.
The first is the simplest to answer:
WHAT “WINS” CAN YOU POINT TO FROM 2016?
Do some mental inventory of where you performed, or over-performed, in 2016. It is important for us to appreciate and celebrate the successes we do have. Make this a habit. Looking back on my year, I can see that some of the milestones my team achieved were rooted in things like empowering others and building deep relationships. Other wins resulted from helping my clients hire the right people, which helped them win more accounts and grow the business. Successes can be indirect. Celebrate them, however they come to you.
WHAT GOALS DID YOU FAIL TO ACHIEVE?
Dig deep to uncover and assess what goals you missed and why; and be honest with yourself. Did you move to quickly, or not fast enough? Were you resistant to change or did you change too much at once? Perhaps you struck out on one goal due to being too focused on another. I’m sure we all do a great job at identifying those “wins” mentioned above, but this a tough one. As much as we celebrate our victories, we must also be aware of our shortcomings. Search your soul, and make this about you, rather than deflecting the blame onto others.
FOR WHAT IN LIFE ARE YOU MOST THANKFUL?
This is a big one; they all are, but you know what I mean. The tried and true method for setting goals for which you’ll be satisfied in achieving, is to truly understand the things in life for which you are grateful. Goals that are consistent with priorities in life will help you move toward the “why” for 2017. What gets you out of bed in the morning? Excites you the most? Be sure to make this about someone else, not you. My “why” centers around the comfortable life and family my wife Laura and I want to build. Understanding this is a top priority, I likely won’t make it a goal of mine to open satellite offices all around the country, at least any time soon. That might take away from what we are building here…shattering one goal while achieving another.
WHAT DID YOU LEARN?
Learn from goals you failed to reach. Take them seriously. Make a short list of things (professional, personal, or both) that would improve your quality of life, were they to immediately change for the positive. Prioritize these items, and what you’ll end up with is a framework of goals to solidify for 2017.
There you have it, my strategy for setting the right goals going into the new year. This is the approach I've found helpful and productive in my professional and personal life. Take it, use it, put your own spin on it, if you wish. I hope it proves to be as useful to you as it's been to me.